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Thunder in the afternoon

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This story is No. 7 in the series "One beautiful morning". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Almost the grand final. Chapters of unequal length, mighty heroes, evil villains. And a purple fungus called Albert

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > General(Current Donor)vidiconFR181465,9793219539,68417 Mar 1314 Sep 13Yes

Portkeys and Planes

Chapter 5 Portkeys and planes

Vinland International Portkey Station, Cross Island, Maine

“Are you sure you’ll be alright?” Harry asked Ron for the third time.

Ron rolled his eyes. “Yes, Harry, I’ll be fine. And you don’t need me to report to Kidderminster, you don’t need me to talk with Kingsley. And you were always closer to Neville than I was.”

“You know Snape will have your balls if you hurt her, right?” Harry smirked.

Ron shrugged. “We’ll be fine, Harry. I can understand where he’s coming from. And I probably understand Faith better than most guys.”

“She’ll make you watch Muggle movies and listen to Muggle music,” Harry teased.

“I’m older now than I was with Hermione. And Faith… Faith has more my taste in things. And more my sense of humour too,” Ron smiled sadly. “The hothouse of the boarding school environment…”

Harry sighed. “Look, Ron, Hermione hasn’t spoken to me much either, not since our last visit. And she wasn’t awkward around you. Or no more awkward than around her parents. She’s still our friend. She wouldn’t have hugged you the way she did if she didn’t think that.”

“I wasn’t good enough to help her,” Ron stated quietly.

“And Hannah couldn’t help Neville, and Luna is still broken, no matter that she acts as if nothing is wrong,” Harry told him sharply. “And George still cries over Fred. And it took me and Ginny long enough to get stable!”

Ron smirked. “Ginny and me, as Hermione would say.”

Harry poked his friend with his wand. “Best not to quote an ex when you’re trying to woo a new girlfriend, who has ears sharper than a Thestral’s!”

Ron laughed. “You’re right,” then he sobered. “We’ll be fine, Harry. I can take Faith on a couple of dates without the Press hounding us, we can get to know each other. Snape can get used to being alive again. And we can try and find if there are more Death Eaters around, and how they got the Dementors here. I’ve got plenty to do. And I do need a little bit of distance from the shop. I think I’m going stale. I’ll tell George to take some time off when I’m back in London.”

Harry nodded. “Okay. Be careful.”

“You too, Harry,” Ron shook his friend’s hand. “You too.”

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Auror Office, Ministry of Magic, London

Neville sat at his desk, compiling what they knew about the Death Eater activity in Britain. Their latest successes were significant compared with the failures of the previous years, but there was still a lot to do. There was a lot of support for Riddle’s ideas among the purebloods, and it would be generations, or maybe even never, before it was gone.

“Neville? You need to come to Kidderminster’s office,” Harry called.

Neville rose absently and walked towards the chief Auror’s office. He entered, standing at ease before the desk.

Harry was there was well, looking worried.

“Longbottom. Before you get on your high horse, this is official business, nothing personal. How sure are you that your Miss Summers is the Slayer?” Kidderminster was a blunt faced man and he tended towards blunt tactics.

Neville didn’t bat an eyelash. “Positive.”

“So if we told you that we had doubts concerning her identity?” Kidderminster hinted.

Neville was still impassive. “I would want to see your evidence,” *And it won’t do you any good, because I know more about how many Slayers there are than you ever will.*

“While in Boston on a mission Potter and Weasley ran into a woman who claimed to be the Slayer,” Kidderminster continued relentlessly.

“And she has better proof than Buffy that she is?” Neville asked his eyes on Harry, who had the grace to look embarrassed.

“She beat up a group of Death Eaters too. And Potter and Weasley,” Kidderminster eyed Harry who now looked uncomfortable.

Neville shrugged. “And? That maybe puts her on an equal footing.”

Harry frowned and then spoke up. “You know something!”

“I know many things, Harry,” Neville acknowledged. “Some of them I may tell you. Others are not my secrets to tell.”

“Secrets, Longbottom? Secrets like that may threaten our world. I could put you under arrest!” Kidderminster thundered.

“You could, and give me veritaserum. And actually, you making that threat tells me enough,” Neville reached into his pocket and took out his badge, placing it delicately on the desk to prevent the polished top from being scratched. “I quit. And for the record? Morons like you are the reason why secrets are kept.”

He gave Harry another look, this one filled with contempt, turned on his heel and strode out of the room.

“LONGBOTTOM! LONGBOTTOM! GET BACK IN HERE! POTTER! GET THAT IDIOT BACK IN HERE!”

Neville didn’t listen. He waved his wand and gathered up what few personal possessions were in his desk and was out the door of the Aurors’ Office by the time Harry caught up with him

“Neville! You can’t quit!” Harry pleaded.

“I can, Harry. I should’ve when they posted me to Vice and started those rumours about me. I’ve got so many warnings and demerits on my record, most of them for things I didn’t do, that I’ll never rise above the rank of Constable. I get insulted and shouted at by a fat man who cowered behind his desk while I bled in Hogwarts, and Kingsley lets him. So, why shouldn’t I quit?” Neville turned and his wand was almost up Harry’s nostril.

His voice was deadly quiet. “Now tell me what you know or I change your brain into a Puffskein.”

Harry gulped. Deadly Neville, according to their mutual friends, was only a small step below deadly Harry. Harry was more powerful, but Neville was utterly ruthless when he felt he had to be.

“Like Kidderminster said, we met another woman who says she’s a Slayer,” Harry replied evenly. “And there can be only one.”

“And who does she say she is?” Neville’s face was tense.

“Faith Lehane. Though she prefers just Faith,” Harry answered soothingly, hoping to avoid gaining a furry brain.

“Faith! Where is she?” Neville asked, lowering his wand. “Is she alright?”

Harry blinked. “You-you know her?”

Neville rolled his eyes. “Never met her, but Buffy knows her. Has been looking for her, as a matter of fact. So, again, where is she? And is she alright”

Harry coughed. “Well… errr…. This is still a bit secret. Errr, remember that Snape sighting me and Ron went to check out in the Colonies?”

“Yeah, was it Elvis again?” Neville looked amused.

“Turns out there were some Death Morons over there. They wanted Faith to breed a new body for Riddle. And Snape was there. Living as a bum.”

Neville paled and leaned against the wall. “Merlin…”

“Yeah,” Harry scratched his head, “Anyway, they saved each other. And now he’s her watcher. And they’re trying to think of a way to beat a boatload of Dementors that’ve infested the Chicago sewers.”

Neville grinned. “Oh, good.”

“What?” Harry sounded confused.

“Buffy has been aching to go up against them ever since I told her about them,” Neville smirked. “And she might just have what we need to take them down too…”

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Boston, Massachusetts, former Death Eater Lair

Faith scowled at the man before her. “Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

“I’ve made it my life’s goal never to obey Healers,” Snape told her dryly as he slowly did his push ups.

“Why are you doing this?” Faith asked.

“Oddly enough I find that I prefer being in good shape, now that my mind is no longer obscured by a haze caused by cheap alcohol,” Snape replied. “And I also know that certain potions and medical spells work faster if one takes judicious exercise.”

“I see. I thought you didn’t listen to them?” Faith sat down, lotus fashion, her short shorts and long t-shirt incongruous compared to the immaculate white shirt and black trousers and socks Snape wore.

“I listen. I just don’t obey. Most of them never had any notion what was wrong with me anyway,” he offered by way of explanation. “After the third or fourth Cruciatus, they tend to throw up their hands and give up.”

“Never give up. Never surrender,” Faith smirked.

“No doubt. Personally I can easily see circumstances under which both are necessary. As long as one is willing to rise up again afterwards,” Snape turned and sat up. “So. Have you been doing your exercises?”

Faith sighed dramatically. “Yes, Daddy.”

Snape froze. His voice was icy when he spoke again. “Show me then.”

Faith gave him a look, but rose and took on the first Tai Chi position.

“Slightly off,” Snape called out from the floor.

“Look, Angel taught me this, and he’s a fuckin’ Master, okay?” Faith snarled.

“Of t'ai chi ch'uan, more correctly known as taijiquan Yes. Possibly. What I am trying to teach you is the Wizarding equivalent. T’ai qi. Mastery of Great Spirit. You aren’t using but a fraction of your inherent power. And I intend to teach you,” Snape rose to his feet and adjusted her position.

“It is different for all people, which is why it’s so difficult to teach,” he frowned. “Maybe… Yes, I started this the wrong way. First we need to teach you to be aware of your magic, to perceive it.” 

“Slayers don’t have magic. Well, maybe B does, but I don’t,” Faith crossed her arms.

Snape moved his wand, muttering. Suddenly lines of colour ran up and down Faith’s body.

She yelped. “What the hell’re you doin’?”

“Showing you your internal magic,” Snape growled. “Now stand still, I’m trying to figure this out. Hmmm… Interesting.”

“What?” Faith tried to cover her body with her hands. The stare he was giving her was far too intense for her, for the relationship she thought he wanted with her. It wasn’t a feeling she enjoyed.

Snape seemed to realize what he was doing. With a gesture his long black robes settled around her shoulders.

“It seems to me that you could do magic. Not wandless magic like you describe your little friend doing, minor things like levitating pencils and minor tracking charms, but real magic, with a wand… What is so funny?” he asked, irritated.

Faith had started to laugh when Snape had gotten to the ‘minor things’ part of his sentence. “Minor things? Minor things? Snape, Willow can do things that would make your blood freeze! She probably could make your blood freeze, with just an annoyed glance!”

Snape blinked and pursed his lips, obviously sceptical but unwilling to tell Faith she was wrong. “Really? It might be wise if I never met her then, I tend to annoy people. But that isn’t the point. The point is, you can do magic. I strongly suspect that all Slayers can, if they can tap into it. Which would be difficult, considering the configuration of their magic. I’d need to study more Slayers to see if that is the case, and I doubt that will happen any time soon.”

“What?” Faith asked, confused.

“You have magic that you cannot access, but that might be accessed with the right tool, or conduit.  And that means we need to pay Olivander another visit,” Snape told her with a small smile. “At least I will get some proper tea.”

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Kotoka International Airport, Ghana

Xander swore he was never, ever flying with two small children again. Especially if one small child was a dreamy eyed adult witch who’d never even been in plane before. He thought Luna was quite used to technology because, well, she’d sat in the car with him and knew how the phone worked and things like that. But airplanes? Apparently not. Added to that had been the interesting problem of getting two passports, one for Luna and one for Joyce. He’d set the paperwork for Joyce in motion the second he got within reach of a police station. A patrol had gone and found the village. Questioning had led to the arrest of several people, including Joyce’s parents.  

A few greased palms and a little pressure from the Council had quickly led to Joyce being made Xander’s ward, getting a passport and all sorts of interesting papers. They’d also enrolled her in a school. All that was fine and dandy, according to the local version of government. But taking the little girl out of the country, that was a different story entirely. A young, white couple with a local girl, heading to Europe? That led to talk of illegal adoptions, slavery and even nastier things.

And since Xander couldn’t easily convince the Council Flunkies of why he needed and wanted Joyce with him, and therefore lacked the sort of support that he’d gotten when becoming her guardian. He’d been afraid and Luna and he would practically have to swear their souls away.

Until Luna had dragged him and Joyce into a small shop in the shadow of Elmina Castle a few days ago…

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Elmina, some days earlier

“Hello, I’m Luna, Luna Lovegood and I was wondering if we could use your loo, please?”

The elderly shopkeeper had eyed them suspiciously until Luna casually drew her wand from her hair, shook it loose, re-id the sloppy knot and skewered the whole thing back in place with the wand.

The old woman had beamed and then waved them through. Into one of the most god-awful smelly places it had ever been Xander’s misfortune to set foot in. And that was saying something.

Luna took her wand out of her hair again and with a flick of it the old toilet moved aside, the wall faded away, opening onto the area behind the shop. Xander knew that it should lie in between the old castle of Elmina and the shop, filled with a range of small, unattractive shacks and lean-to’s. But instead there was a dusty, colonial looking square with several large, whitewashed buildings.

“Welcome to the Embassy Quarter, Xander,” Luna smiled winsomely.

“Embassy Quarter?” Xander stammered.

“Hmmhmmm. When the Portuguese first came here, their wizards ran into the local wizards and shamans and lots of demons. After those were… pacified,” Luna’s face twisted in distaste at the term, “They built a wizarding enclave here. And as the oldest true European settlement in this part of Africa, it became the centre from which European Wizardry ruled Southern Africa.”  

She gestured at a large, pompous looking building, the whitewash flaking off, the columns slightly twisted by subsidence. “Since the retreat of the Mu- Non magical persons, the magicals have left too. It’s amazing how quickly things became ‘too dangerous’ once there no longer were regiments to throw into the line, non-magicals to die before a wizard even had to come within a mile of danger,” this time Luna almost sneered. “But there are still embassies, even if all the magical governments only maintain a single one. And these are all of them. And that,” her hand waved at the dilapidated building again, “Is the embassy of the British Minister of Magic. Come on.”

She strode forward, mounting the steps and swept passed a surprised looking man, then looked at a board in the dust-filled atrium, marched up the stairs and knocked on a door marked ‘Lord Zabini, Cultural Attaché’.

She didn’t wait for a call, just opened the door. Inside was a scene that was familiar to Xander, at least somewhat, from movies. A tall, dark-skinned man of about Luna’s age was behind the desk, looking up from his papers, his face grave at the disturbance. A couple of settees faced each other over a coffee table in front of a large fireplace.

Xander would have been more impressed if he couldn’t see the toe of a woman’s shoe peeking out from under one of the settees.

Luna smiled pleasantly, “Blaise. What a surprise. I need something.”

Blaise raised an eyebrow. “Lovegood. What’re you doing here?” ‘With these Muggles’ wasn’t spoken but clearly heard.

“This is Xander, Alexander Harris. He hunts demons. This is Joyce. She’s an abandoned Muggleborn witch, showing interesting accidental magic. We need to get to Britain and talk to headmistress McGonagall,” Luna smiled airily. “I’m sure you can arrange some sort of papers that would allow us to take her there? We will return with her soon, a few weeks at most. Xander has things to do here.”

Blaise cleared his throat. “Oh, come now, Lovegood. A muggle hunting demons? Like your Dimple-bummed snarlwracks, such things just don’t exist,” he gazed significantly at Luna’s posterior.

“Crumple-horned Snorkacks,” Luna corrected, still smiling slightly. “They do exist. As does the office of Scheidlmeyer und Schulze, Frauenärzte.”

Zabini looked puzzled, but otherwise seemed unmoved. “Really? What does that have to do with me?”

“It’s where Marietta went,” Luna’s eyes narrowed.

Blaise paled and his hands clasped the edge of his desk. His eyes closed. “Fuck.”

Luna was by his side in seconds. “I’m sorry Blaise. I thought you knew.”

Blaise was trying to stop the tears that ran down his face. “I didn’t. I-I thought… I guessed, I think. I didn’t want to know.”

He started to cry. Luna pushed his desk chair back and knelt by him. He put his head on her shoulders and wept.

After a few minutes he seemed to pull himself together. “You came here to blackmail me, Lovegood?”

“Yes. I doubted you’d help from the goodness of your heart,” Luna admitted quite cheerfully, drying her neck with a colourful handkerchief.

Zabini snorted. “What did you think then?”

“Someone had to pay, Blaise. The Edgecombes are poor as church mice, as poor as the Weasleys used to be,” Luna declared loftily. “Too good for the heir of a title and a fortune,” Xander knew she was quoting.

Blaise let out a shuddering breath, his eyes closing again. “Oh.”

“Yes. Oh,” Luna told him severely. Then her face tightened. “I think I know where she got the money. No matter. You won’t help us, we’ll find another way.”

Blaise sat up and moved his wand, aiming it at Joyce. He frowned. “Her pathways are strange, Lovegood. I would say that it would need an expert on juvenile magic. The Headmistress certainly qualifies,” he scrawled a few lines on what Xander thought was parchment and handed it to Luna. “Take this to Chaffers down in Travel. He’ll arrange things.”

Luna blinked in surprise. “Thank you, Blaise.”

Zabini laughed. “Times, and the world have changed, Lovegood. You’re a hero. If you wanted, you could’ve been Ambassador here. I needed every ounce of influence and money I could apply to get this job.”

Luna nodded. “Or course, Blaise,” she hesitated a moment and then grabbed his quill, making a short notation. “She still lives with her parents. Her mum’s ill, I think.”

Blaise opened his mouth to speak, then closed his hand on the note as if it was a lifeline. “Thanks, Luna.”

“Don’t mess up again, Blaise,” was all Luna said as she left the office.

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Xander smiled at the memory of how fast the papers had been processed then. Chaffers in Travel had not only been very helpful, he had told the Ambassador and apparently Zabini was right in stating that Luna was a hero. It had taken a great deal of trouble not to be immediately invited to a dinner with the Ambassador, the Ambassador’s wife, and the ambassadors of every other wizarding nation. They had to promise to return later. And they would. As Luna had said, Xander had work to do here.

But right now he had different problems to think of. Like the fact that Luna really wasn’t used to air travel the ‘muggle way’ and was as excited as well, as excited as Joyce. Or Willow on caffeine.

She and Joyce were bouncing in their seats, squealing with anticipation. It was possible to explain Joyce’s excitement at never having flown before, but Luna? How could he explain that she had used a portkey to get to Africa? So he’d settled on an elaborate overland trek through France, Spain, Gibraltar and North Africa, then a journey through the Sahara. Chaffers had been quite adept at forging the stamps and visa in her passport. 

The plane took off and the two of them each held one of his hands. One of the other passengers gave him a look of pure hatred. Xander could understand and commiserate. The only thing worse than Luna’s excited squeal right now was Willow singing.

Luna’s smile once they were level was amazing, like a huge lamp lighting up a dark room. “That was wonderful. Is landing as much fun?”

Xander scratched his head. “Well I can’t say I find take off that exciting either. But that might just be me,” he hastily told the disappointed blonde.  “I’m sure it will be great.”

“Okay. Xander? What’s the Mile High Club?” Luna asked innocently, in a voice just a touch too loud to be ignored by the surrounding passengers.

There were some scattered coughs and giggles from around them. *The death of me, she’ll be the Death of me,* Xander groaned inwardly. Then he remembered the night before and smiled. *But what a wonderful way to go, and who better to go with?*

 
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